Cheers: Oh boy! Oberon

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News

The party people of Metro Detroit have a lot of fun in March.

St. Patrick’s Parade in Corktown last Sunday and the Marche du Nain Rouge this Sunday keep the party train moving and celebrating outdoors. The week before thousands gathered in the bars of Hamtramck for the third annual Hamtramck Music Festival featuring more than 200 bands.

Next week, the big reason to clear your schedule is the annual release of Bell’s Oberon on March 21, and bars have learned that folks want to celebrate.

The spring wheat beer will be feted all day Monday at places like award-winning beer bar HopCat, which will open both the Detroit and Ann Arbor locations at 11 a.m. with Oberon and other Bell’s products on tap.

Ale Mary’s Beer Hall in Royal Oak, Ciccarelli’s 22 Sports Bar in Shelby Township, Cultivate Coffee and TapHouse in Ypsilanti, Bigalora Wood Fired Cucina in Royal Oak, CAYA Smokehouse Grill in Wolverine Lake and the Bavarian Inn in Frankenmuth are all promoting the release of Oberon on the day it comes back.

Ashley’s beer bar in Ann Arbor is one of the few places in southeastern Michigan to tap Oberon on Sunday night at midnight. Representatives from Bell’s Brewery will be present, and there will be a ceremonial crowning of the winner of the King and Queen of Oberon contest (and they get the first pour of the year).

Ashley’s owner Roy More says Oberon is “a rite of spring.”

“Oberon puts people in the right frame of mind that spring is here,” says More, who also owns Ashley’s in Westland. “During opening week we sell eight times more Oberon than any other beer.”

Return to Ann Arbor on Monday for a daylong Oberon pub crawl that kicks of at noon at Fraser’s Pub (2045 Packard) and travels to Buffalo Wild Wings, Ashley’s, HopCat, Cottage Inn, Bar Louie, the Arena, Old Town, Beer Grotto and ends at 9 p.m. at Bill’s Beer Garden (218 S. Ashley).

Ale Mary’s reveals new whiskey program

One of the bars tapping Oberon this Monday, Ale Mary’s in Royal Oak, is significantly upping its whiskey game, too.

The restaurant is already known for a stellar beer selection with 140 labels and nearly 30 taps, but now it is also offering more in terms of bourbon, Scotch and American and Canadian spirits. Interesting offerings include Johnnie Walker Blue Label and Laphroaig Triple Wood Scotches, Rebel Yell Small Batch rye and Nikka Coffey Grain Japanese whiskey.

Flights can be ordered for $18-$35. Check with the bartender to see what special reserves may be available, such as Pappy Van Winkle or Macallan Rare Cask.

Motor City Gas celebrates its first year

In other Royal Oak-based whiskey news, microdistillery Motor City Gas is celebrating its first year of business Thursday.

Located at 325 E. Fourth, the party is 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Look for a limited release of a 9-grain malt whiskey they call “Hot Mess.”